The Biggest Loser recap: This is Your Life!
Hey, kids! I’m filling in for Kate Ward on recapping duties this week. Last night was the second episode of the season, so all that anyone could talk about was the dreaded ”Week 2 Curse” — the semi-mythic notion that Biggest Loser contestants always suffer a terrible second week as their bodies adjust to losing a megaton of weight in week 1.
Bob noticed that Michael was lifting heavy barbells like they were balloons. ”How in the world did a man as strong as you are get to be 526 pounds? ‘ Michael had to admit that he had no idea, and then he said something that practically sounded like an epitaph: ”I’m not married, I don’t have kids. I’m not even close to it. The only thing I’m close to is dying because of my weight.”
Meanwhile, Jillian took lonely twin John out to the ol’ Gigantic Tire for some Tire Hammering, which is my new favorite therapeutic exercise after Styrofoam-punching and Skateboard Yoga. Jillian: ”You use the gym to break down their defense mechanisms, until they’re so physically exhausted they can’t hold back their emotions anymore.” John became physically exhausted, and then let it all out: ”My dad. My grandma. My sister. My aunt. My best friend. My brother-in-law. They’re all dead. I’m cursed.”
Viewers, after this, were you pumped for an epic night of grand melodrama? I was. Tears were already in my eyes. The stakes felt high. The Week 2 clock was ticking. But then, an unwelcome guest suddenly emerged from his subterranean hyperbolic chamber to sap all the life out of everyone.
Dr. Huizenga’s Neighborhood
Dr. H. is like Nyquil: works well in small doses, but if you have too much your life becomes a droopy semi-conscious acid nightmare. ”This is the sickest group we’ve ever had,” he said. He held out a bundle of folders: ”I have here in my hand a group of individual medical tasks for each team.” Because nothing tackles life-threatening obesity head-on like twisted reality show activities!
Carry That Weight
Michael and Maria’s task card said, ”Watch a normal weight man simulate your weight.” I had a horrifying image of a thin person doing a poor-taste Chris Farley impression, but the truth was so much more deliciously cruel. The White team found Bob and Dr. H. hanging out in the garden. On the table were weights totaling 303 pounds — representing Michael’s excess hydrated fat. ”I’m gonna be the guinea pig!” Bob explained. As Bob slowly dressed in his armor of fake obesity (henceforth ”fauxbesity”), the trainer complained. And complained. And complained. ”I feel miserable. This is normal for you?”
I understand that embarrassment is built into this show from the ground up, but for the life of me, I wanted to slap Bob after awhile. Michael, who seems like a pretty laconic fellow, seemed to take all of this in stride, but I thought I saw him raise his eyebrows at one point, as if he were watching a crazy hobo from the park explain his theory about how Jesus was a Martian.
Dr. H. presents… Dr. H.!
Stephanie and Patti had a simpler task: ”Watch a special message about how your health is hurting more than just yourselves.” Dr. H. sat them down in his office. I want to show you a video, he explained. It’s important that you see this. He turned to his television. The TV turned on… and there was Dr. H! I was hoping that the two Dr. H.’s would engage in some back-and-forth banter, but instead the one on the TV went and talked to the Purple team’s family: a stern-looking father, and a daughter who looks like Ann Coulter.
Money, money, money
The Red team had to ”find out the true cost of being overweight.” An armored truck pulled up the driveway. There were piles of money in back. Using a scientific combination of math, astrology, and sexy guesswork, Dr. H. had decided that Lance and Melissa were losing $3 million over the course of their lifetime.
For some bizarre reason, that was the last we saw of the gigantic pile of money. I think there should be a law on reality shows: If you show a truck-sized pile of dollar bills, those dollar bills must be used in a reward challenge involving heavy-duty fans and/or zero gravity. At the very least, I was waiting for Melissa to race out into the driveway, pick up a stack of bills, throw them in the air, and yell, ”Make it Purple Rain!”
NEXT: Maria has a bloody bad time
Ms. Michaels Does Not Approve
Cheryl and Daris had to see ”how your old, unhealthy diet affects a healthy person.” Cue Jillian Michaels, standing in the kitchen with five or six huge plates of all-American (albeit mostly-Mexican) food. ”I have to eat one of your meals!” she explained.
I didn’t think that anything could make Jillian Michaels afraid except for the realization that there is only one inhabited world in our solar system for her to conquer. But she was terrified as she pulled off the plate covers. French fries! Quesadillas! Tortilla chips with some decadent-looking guac! ”This isn’t even food. It’s chemicals. Meat parts, preservatives, hydrogenated oils. Pure crap!” Jillian spewed burrito remnants into the trash can. This is officially the vommitiest season yet. One more episode and it’s a streak!
Immunity Challenge: Fear Eats the Soul
Some people love the Weigh-Ins; some people like the crying; some people only tune in to see Jillian do her Room 101 psycho-destruction therapy act. Me, I love the challenges. Love them, love them, love them. There’s a twisted Dr. Seuss genius in the outlandish geometry at work in the Loser challenges. And last night’s was no exception.
”We’re testing the most important thing you need to reach your weight-loss goal: Balance.” Ali explained. ”Each team has a balance beam, 3 ½ inches wide and 40 feet across. As a team, you need to take ten beachballs across the pool, put them into the tower, and come back safely.” The team that won got immunity; the team that lost got a 2-pound penalty at the Weigh-In.
Melissa was the first to fall in the water, and Darrell seemed to be struggling, but apparently Lance and Andrea were totally owning this challenge, because Black and Red ended up just seconds apart in the first place race (Red pulled ahead at the end.)
Maria was frozen at the base of the board. ”When I was on the beam, I felt like I was gonna fall. Soon as that happens, I get panic attacks.” She took a step back from the balance beam, tripped, and fell directly onto her face on the side of the pool. Blood from her nose covered her arms and spread across the ground. There was a Biggest Loser medic, an ambulance, and everything.
Maria’s screams were awful. But what was even more awful was what came afterwards. With the blood still drying at the side of the pool, Ali made an announcement. ”Even though the white team suffered an injury, they did not complete this challenge, which means they will have the two-pound penalty at the weigh-in this week.”
Come ON. We couldn’t get a special ”Blood-Covered Arms” dispensation to hold off on the two-pound penalty? Or at least Ali couldn’t wait to announce this until a little later? As it was, standing in the cool blue light of the indoor pool with her blonde swept hair looking pale and elf-like, Ali cut such a menacing figure that I’m inclined to believe Kate’s assertion that the host is becoming Evil Incarnate.
Bob and Jillian Attack!
We then saw Bob essentially chastise Michael for being concerned about his mother. ”He went into the whole ‘I’ve got to take care of my mother,”’ Bob explained with air quotes, as if ”filial piety” was just the cutest little thing in the zoo this week.
I noticed this a whole lot last season and never quite found the time to mention it, but Jillian’s and Bob’s relentless preaching of the Gospel of Self-Interest makes me feel deeply uncomfortable, as this (admittedly extreme situation) proved. Their general assertion is that contestants on the show spend too much time worrying about other people, and not enough time worrying about themselves. On one hand, this sounds like a way to build self-esteem. On another hand, it sounds like an excuse to be a total douche.
Maybe I’m being so hard on Bob because Jillian came up with the scene of the night. She took Maria out to the pool. It was raining. ”It’s no coincidence that you’re afraid of water and it happens to be raining,” said Jillian. Turns out, Jillian can make Mother Nature cry, too! She took the bruised contestant out in the water, baptizing her anew into the Gospel of Loserdom.
NEXT: The Weigh-In — Mama gets what she wants
In IMAX 3-D!
What the hell is that pygmy-sized tube in the corner of Dr. Huizenga’s office? And why is he sitting inside of it in this official Biggest Loser picture? If anyone can explain to me what scientific use that thing has, I will give you a dollar by Friday.
Anyhow, Dr H. made a 3-D map of Andra’s torso, then he listed off all the reasons why Darrell is the sickest man on campus: ”Metabolic syndrome, diabetes, high blood pressure, reflux, asthma.” Darrell keeps his emotions in check behind his exceptional beard, but I thought it was heartbreaking when he said: ”There’s things I want to do. There’s things I want to see.”
Pause for Midshow Commercial
Dr. H. to the White Team: ”We’re gonna follow your progress with a GE Electronic Medical Records system!” Oh, NBC. NBC, NBC, NBC…
What’s My Age, Again?
Dr. H. waved his hands over his sci-fi TV screen and decreed that Cheryl, 51, is actually 75. ”You’re 24 years older inside. About half of that is the cigarettes.” Have you ever read the Stephen King short story ‘Quitter’s, Inc’? It’s about a company that helps you quit smoking using chillingly brilliant methods: if you smoke, they administer electric shocks to your family; if you smoke again, they break your son’s arms; if you smoke again, well, you stop smoking the hard way. By dying. Of being killed.
Anyways, that would make one hell of a reality show.
Tossing and Turning
We didn’t see too much of Sam and Koli tonight, which is really too bad: the cousins are lovably no-bull. Unfortunately, they are also officially the Worst Roommates Ever. Dr. H. explained that they both have sleep apnea, and cued up his magic TV screen to reveal footage of their bedroom at 2 AM. One of the cousins was snoring loudly; the other one was rolling around and around.
What’s My Age, Again Again?
Perhaps because he ran out of glittery devices that make robot sounds, Dr. H. fell back on the old ”What’s Your Inner Age” schick for Ashley. She says 30, the machine says 57. Dr H.: ”You’ve got almost 260 pounds of extra hydrate fat. And you know what else we found? You’re a diabetic!” This was awful news, but the way that Dr. H. raised his inflection on that last word made it sound like a bad Jerry Seinfeld impression. Don’t they teach bedside manner at whatever offshore mail-order clown-doctor institution gave Dr. H. his medical degree?
The Line of the Night
Darrell: ”Last Chance Workout? Is it legal? Maybe in California, but I don’t think in any other state.” (Second place goes to Ashley: ”Everyone thinks I’m the weak link, but I’m gonna creep up like a Ninja on their asses.”)
Let’s run the numbers, shall we?
Red Team: Lance: -8. Melissa: +1. Percentage Weight Loss: 1.25%
Gray Team: Sam: -9. Koli: -8. Percentage Weight Loss: 2.34%
Pink Team: Ashley: -8. Sherry: -5. Percentage Weight Loss: 2.35%
Green Team: Migdalia: -8. Miggy: -4. Percentage Weight Loss: 1.89%
Purple Team: Patti: -4. Stephanie: -3. Percentage Weight Loss: 1.50%
Orange Team: Cheryl: -3. Daris: -10. Percentage Weight Loss: 1.89%
Brown Team: John: -10. Percentage Weight Loss: 2.17 %
Black Team: Darrell: -10. Andrea: -5. Percentage Weight Loss: 2.25%
White Team: Michael: -11. Maria: -10. Percentage Weight Loss: 2.50%
Melissa made a big deal about telling us her plan: she was going to coast through her immunity week, so that she could have more weight stored up to lose next week. Good plan, but it doesn’t always work in your favor to play clear strategy this early in the season, and by posting a one-pound gain, Melissa instantly stamped ”Gameplayer” on her forehead. Unbelievably, her reaction to the plus one was a smile. An evil, Lex Luthor smile. Sound off, viewers: Is Melissa on the fast track to becoming this season’s villain?
The White Team made an impressive showing: bruised Maria came back strong from her challenge fall: ”You lost ten pounds? This woman couldn’t even walk after her quick date with the concrete,” said the good-humored Michael. Meanwhile, Michael brought his two-week total to 45 pounds and announced that he was officially gunning for Rudy’s ”Fasted to 100 Pounds” crown. I’m optimistic.
Stephanie was confused and hurt by her poor showing. I’m inclined to agree with Bob that this was just an aberration, her body just catching up with her huge showing last week. She seems like a freakishly dedicated personality (it helps that she speaks in the staccato, comma-free rhythms of a David Mamet character.) I think she could go far in this competition.
Patti gave a gracious speech requesting that the other Losers send her home. ”I need to go home. I will succeed at home. I’ll see you all a the finale, and you will be proud of me.” Everyone voted for Patti, but I was most moved by the Gray team: ”As Mama’s boys ourselves, we’d never disrespect a mother’s wish.” More of them, please!
Patti went home, and post-transformation, had lost 43 pounds. She was taking dance lessons with her husband (I wish I could post a screen grab, because their dance instructor had CRAZY PANTS!)
What did you think of the episode, viewers? Personally, I thought it was kind of strange deviation: I realize that the show is about real medical issues, but this a competition show, not a docu-series about a dashing obesity doctor with big dreams and a sleeping tube. I could’ve used more time with the new contestants; besides Michael, I don’t really feel like I know any of them very well yet. But then again, I think Michael has the potential to be this season’s superhero, so I guess we’ll just wait and see.
The Biggest Loser